Last year this race should have been my first after starting swimming again, but it was canceled for bad weather. Same bad weather this year again, but luckily it has not been canceled, only postponed one week. The ocean was indeed really nice on the race day, no waves, no chops, no particulary strong currents, no winds. I signed up for the 5k race and I really hoped to swim in a time near my PB; however…the position of the buoys has obviously been miscalculates and the race seemed to last forever. Bye bye PB. More on this later. First a rough summary.
I did my homework and I swam with the leading pack from start to finish. But this time I have been smart enough not to lead the pack, just drafting lovely staying in second or third position until the last 600m. All the kids, the young elite athletes I mean, at the end were far better sprinter than me, and I finished sixth, but at least I won my age group and I didn’t finished too far behind, just 20 seconds from the first.
And now some detail. I really enjoyed this race, and it has been awesome to draft to the side from start to finish. It has been much better than my usual draft to the toes. Who was leading tryied to escape at almost any buoy turn but actually nobody really succeed in breaking up the pack (7~8 swimmers) until the last half lap. I tried myself during the last lap to sprint away in a moment that the pace was low, but it didn’t work. Well, at least I know that I gave it a try. What broke up the pack in the last 600m was lapping the last slower swimmers of the 2.5k wave. At that point I couldn’t see anymore who was following whom, and who wa trying to sprint. But anyway, it was a lot of fun.
About the course. It was supposed to be a 1.25k rectangular shape. However, as soon as I saw it from the shore something didn’t sound quite right to me. I couldn’t be sure, but one end was between the Cottesloe pylon and the groyne, while the other end almost reached Eric street. If the are approximately 700~800m from the pylon to North Cott SLSC, which is slightly past Eric st., then the course simply couldn’t be 1.25k. In fact the pack, from the 1st to the 8th, arrived all between 1h 18′ 17″ and 1h 18′ 40″ (my time was 1h 18′ 37″), we have been told that the split of the first lap was about 20′, which doesn’t make sense at all. At home later I checked better with google maps: one lap was about 1.5~1.6km, which makes sense with the splits and the final time, since it means that the final distance was somewhat between 6km and 6.4km. But it is ok, it was longer for me as it was for anybody else.
Anyway, let’s get to what I learned. I realized that drafting to the side is better. I saved a lot of energies and I swam in the pack all the race (thanks Naomi for the tip). It is also a good position to not make people swimming away. I already knew that considering my characteristics and that I am swimming with younger swimmers that I am not going to win a race at the sprint. With swimmers stronger than me it is better to draft and to try, if it is the case, to swim away before the end. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This time I gave it a try, and it did ‘t work. I still have to give another try, maybe next week at Busselton if it is the opportunity.